Serbia’s obligation under the readmission agreement to accept around 100.000 of its citizens who are residing illegally in western European countries, is an imperative condition that our country has to fulfill in order to reach an agreement with the EU on visa privileges. However, the reintegration of returnees into Serbia is very difficult due to widespread poverty, so it is feared that they will decide to go back to the EU, and mostly through illegal channels.
The agreements on visa privileges and readmission were not signed on April 11th because the representatives of our country and the European Commission couldn’t define the segments of the readmission agreement referring to the readmission of third countries’ citizens who have entered the EU through Serbia’s territory.
Nevertheless, Serbia and the European Commission will discuss the details of the agreement again next week. “We are working on the proposal for the Serbian Government to specify an article of the (readmission) agreement, in order to find a modality for both sides and in order to avoid another failure to sign the agreement”, Tanja Miscevic said.
Serbia’s negotiation team insists on Serbia to only accept the people who don’t have our citizenship, but for whom there is positive proof of entering EU through Serbia.
Miodrag Shresta of Group 484, organization dealing with forced migration-related issues, explains that the request to accept third countries’ citizens is a standard mechanism of protection against illegal migrations into the EU. In this way, the EU expects that on returning to Serbia third countries’ citizens will seek asylum in our country, but Shresta underlines that it will be a problem because Serbia doesn’t have an asylum law yet.
Once an agreement is reached with the EU, around 100.000 will start arriving gradually in Serbia proper, although the records of the German Government show that as many Serbian citizens are residing illegally in Germany alone. The number of returnees and the time of their return to Serbia will entirely depend on the decision of the country of their illegal residence.
Records show that most Serbia’s citizens have tried to find better life, but without a definite residence permit, in Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg. In the last six years, 50.000-60.000 of our citizens have returned to Serbia, voluntarily or involuntarily, from 12 EU countries and from Switzerland, with whom our country had readmission agreements signed.
The new agreement that the representatives of Serbia and the European Commission will sign, will oblige Serbia to cooperate with all 27 EU countries. Danilo Rakic of Group 484, however, claims that there is no reliable data on the citizens who have returned to Serbia from Western Europe because there is no statistics on voluntary returnees.
According to the existing statistics, around 15.000 of our citizens have been deported to Serbia through Belgrade airport, and an average 120 deportees arrive in Serbia in this way every month, Rakic says for “Blic”. Still, according to him, the Reintegration Office in Sandzak alone has on its record around 40.000 people who have returned to this part of Serbia where the majority population is Roma and Bosniaks.
Translation: Swedish Committee for Refugees from the former Yugoslavia